Tag: Section 317

Why Is RFK, Jr Pimping out the Kennedy Compound to Anti-Vaxxers?

Folks who know the history of the Kennedy family and vaccines are likely surprised that RFK, Jr is holding a contest for his own organization using a visit to the Kennedy compound as a prize.

The Children’s Health Defense is ironically named, as all it seems to do is scare folks away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, something the Kennedy family once championed.

Can someone ask his mom?

Does she plan to go and does she support his work?

Do other members of the Kennedy family?

Why Is RFK, Jr Pimping out the Kennedy Compound to Anti-Vaxxers?

Before we look at the work of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, let’s review what the Kennedy family has done to help get vaccine-preventable diseases under control.

“Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is also the anniversary of the announcement that a vaccine has been discovered to prevent paralytic polio. Today over 90 million Americans have been vaccinated with the Salk vaccine. Over 80 million remain unvaccinated. Almost 4,800,000 children have not been vaccinated, and the majority of these are under five years of age. I hope that the renewed drive this spring and summer to provide vaccination for all Americans, and particularly those who are young, will have the wholehearted support of every parent in America. I hope that they, knowing some of the long range suffering which comes from an attack of polio — with this miraculous drug I hope that everyone takes advantage of it.”

President John F. Kennedy News Conference 9, April 12, 1961

In 1962, John F. Kennedy signed the Vaccination Assistance Act (Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act). It started as a three year program to help get kids vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, and has been continuously reauthorized ever since.

What else do we know about the Kennedy family and vaccines?

“Rose and maternal health and the health of her children were paramount for her as those children were growing up. She took great pride in getting them out into the countryside, getting them outside and walking through Brookline when they lived there, and getting them fresh air and getting them whatever medical needs they had. But she would say how fearful she was in the days before vaccines of how a child could pass away so quickly.”

Barbara Perry on The Life of Rose Kennedy

Why was she afraid if measles was so mild, as some folks still claim?

“Or take German Measles. We know German Measles during the first three months of pregnancy almost surely will deform the unborn child. Within the last few weeks, a new vaccine has been tested and preliminary results show it is 100% effective. It should be available within a year. Within our proposed clinics this new vaccine can be administered to children, immunizing them forever against a disease which can cause retardation in future generations. “

Eunice Kennedy Shriver speech before the Citizen’s Committee on Mental Retardation

Concerns about congenital rubella syndrome and German Measles (rubella) led many people to get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available.

Remember the rubella epidemic of 1964-65, when there were 12.5 million rubella virus infections, which “resulted in 11,250 therapeutic or spontaneous abortions, 2,100 neonatal deaths, and 20,000 infants born with congenital rubella syndrome?”

“It is most encouraging to learn that 28 million children have been vaccinated. This is a wonderful record. But in the great enthusiasm over the rubella program, attention has been removed from the effort to eradicate the common measles. As a result, the 22,231 reported common measles cases in 1968 have risen to 72,000 reported cases for 1971. All children between the ages of 1 and 12 should be immunized. You can help. Keep interest alive in both the common measles and German measles program.”

Speech by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy March 1972

Maybe we simply need more folks like this advocating for vaccines today.

“Many of you perhaps may or may not know that old-fashioned measles can cause brain damage in children. Here in California as well as in other states, there are thousands of children who have not been vaccinated against this common childhood disease.”

Speech by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy March 1972

How many people have Sargent Shriver’s Peace Corp volunteers help get vaccinated and protected around the world?

“We already have the ability to eradicate red measles, responsible for brain inflammation and mental retardation in one in a thousand cases affected by the disease. The measles vaccine and other vaccines are being administered in increasing numbers today, but we are still far from the kind of universal vaccination program that is necessary. Measles vaccines ought to be administered to every infant from nine months of age on.”

Sargent Shriver at the Special Convocation of George Peabody College (1965)

How many people are vaccinated and protected because of the work of the Kennedy family?

Senator Edward Kennedy’s bill would have helped get more adults vaccinated and protected if it had passed.

How many kids aren’t getting vaccinated because Robert F Kennedy, Jr is scaring their parents?

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”

Robert F. Kennedy

An environmental lawyer, you really have to wonder why he hasn’t championed climate change, instead of going after vaccines, which have been found to be safe, with few risks, and necessary.

More on Why Is RFK, Jr Pimping out the Kennedy Compound to Anti-Vaxxers?

Does the CDC Own Any Patents on Vaccines?

Have you heard the CDC owns patents on vaccines?

“The CDC is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. The agency owns more than 20 vaccine patents and purchases and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines annually. Congressman Dave Weldon has pointed out that the primary metric for success across the CDC is how many vaccines the agency sells and how successfully the agency expands its vaccine program—regardless of any negative effects on human health.”

Robert F Kennedy, Jr

Wait, the CDC sells vaccines?

To who?

Myths About the CDC Selling Vaccines

The CDC doesn’t sell vaccines. That’s not their mission.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety, and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities to do the same.”

CDC Mission, Role and Pledge

They do buy vaccines. A lot of vaccines.

In 2017, the CDC immunization program spent just over $4.8 billion dollars, including $4.1 billion on the Vaccines for Children program.

“…from March through December 2016, over 13,000 doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine, purchased using CDC funding, were used to respond to a deadly outbreak of meningitis in Southern California.”

Department Of Health And Human Services Fiscal Year 2018

Did they sell all of those vaccines?

If they did, then they wouldn’t have to request money from Congress each year to buy more vaccines, now would they?

“CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees—i.e., state health departments and certain local and territorial public health agencies—which in turn distribute them at no charge to those private physicians’ offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers.”

The VFC Program: At a Glance

Instead, the vaccines that the CDC buys, at big discounts, since they are buying so many, are offered free to those kids who can’t afford vaccines in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program and through Section 317 grants.

What About the CDC Vaccine Patents?

Is Kennedy right about the CDC vaccine patents?

“In the course of performing our mission, many CDC researchers identify novel technologies which may be of interest to commercial partners. Some of these technologies are available as a biological or other tangible material for licensing, whereas others are protected under patent.”

Office of the Associate Director for Science (OADS)

OK, so the CDC has patents…

Well, not exactly the CDC. The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has patents…

Patents of vaccines and vaccine technology are not the big deal that anti-vaccine folks make them out to be.
Patents of vaccines and vaccine technology are not the big deal that anti-vaccine folks make them out to be.

When you think of Kennedy’s claim, do you think that the CDC has the patent on 20 new vaccines? After all, that’s how it sounds, doesn’t it?

They don’t. Instead, they mostly own patents on vaccine technology.

“This technology describes a method for inactivating rotavirus. Traditional inactivation strategies use chemicals that reduce antigenicity (by altering rotavirus proteins), leading to less protection against the virus. Conversely, this method preserves and/or maintains the integrity of viral particles, leading to greater protection against rotavirus. This strategy has been validated in mice, piglets and cattle and further clinical studies are underway.”

A Novel Thermal Method to Inactivate Rotavirus for Use in Vaccines

Why patent these technologies?

Because they were discovered by CDC researchers and if their intellectual properly is not patented, then someone else could patent it, use it or sell it, and keep others from using it.

“After a license is negotiated, post-license compliance must be maintained to ensure the scheduled development of the technology, payment of royalties, and compliance to the license agreement. Based on the terms negotiated in the agreement, a percentage of royalties will go to the inventor, while a portion will go to the originating laboratory for that technology. This allows funding to be reinvested into CDC for the development of additional technologies that can meet other public health needs.”

What is the Process of Technology Transfer?

Should it be a surprise that these patents might generate money?

“Certain people are not considered for ACIP membership. For example, people who are directly employed or have an immediate family member directly employed by a vaccine manufacturer, hold a patent on a vaccine or related product, or serve on a Board of Directors of a vaccine manufacturer are excluded from ACIP membership.”

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Childhood Immunization Schedule

Is it a surprise that the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has taken steps to make sure these patents don’t generate any conflicts of interest among those making decisions about vaccines?

“Dr Offit did not sit on the FDA committee that approved any rotavirus vaccine and he was not a member of ACIP, as RFK Jr claims, at the time they voted to recommend adding rotavirus vaccine to the immunization schedule.”

The Truth about vaccines 6: rotavirus

Is it a surprise that Kennedy is just trying to scare folks with all of this talk about selling vaccines and vaccine patents?

What to Know About the CDC’s Vaccine Patents

While the CDC does own and license some patents related to vaccines and vaccine technologies, they don’t actually sell any vaccines.

More on the CDC’s Vaccine Patents

What Does the CHIP “Fix” from Congress Break?

Breaking something else, seems like a poor way of fixing something.

But that seems to be the way that Congress chose to go with their short-term fix for CHIP – the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Before leaving Washington for the holidays, Congress passed a stop-gap spending bill to keep CHIP and the rest of the government going.
Before leaving Washington for the holidays, Congress passed a stop-gap spending bill to keep CHIP and the rest of the government going.

Remember that instead of simply reauthorizing CHIP when it expired on September 30, as has been done with broad bipartisan support in the past, this Congress chose to let it expire. That has left several states freezing enrollment and sending warning letters to parents that their kids might soon lose their insurance.

Children’s Health Insurance Program

Do you even know what CHIP is?

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is an insurance program that covers 9 million kids in the United States. It also covers about 370,000 pregnant women.

Who has CHIP?

Lower and middle income families that don’t qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough money to buy their own, private insurance, have CHIP. And depending on how much a family makes, CHIP is either free, like Medicaid, or is partially subsidized.

Because CHIP is paid for with federal and state funds, most Republicans in Congress don’t want to reauthorize or extend the program unless it’s funding can be cut from somewhere else.

What Does the CHIP “Fix” from Congress Break?

Now instead of finally getting around to reauthorizing CHIP, Congress gave it some money as part of a stopgap spending bill that keeps the government going.

The problem? In addition to the simple fact that they likely didn’t give the program enough money to run for the planned six months – they gave it about half – there is an issue about where they got the money.

Some of the money came from a $750 million cut from the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

What is the Prevention and Public Health Fund?

“The Prevention Fund supports critical public health activities—including lead poisoning surveillance, vaccination initiatives and other programs—in every state and community across the country. Cutting this significant funding source would leave communities without the vital resources needed to keep children and families happy, healthy and safe.

It is even more alarming and contradictory that this cut will be used to provide very short-term funding for CHIP and community health centers. Our organizations are united in support of CHIP and community health centers, which are vital to improving children’s health. But losing the Prevention Fund would just create another hole in the public health support children need.”

Statement from Leading Public Health Groups: Using the Prevention Fund to help fund CHIP: A Serious Mistake

In addition to all of the other important programs that are supported by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, it has helped protect children by:

  • providing 40% of the total funding for the CDC’s immunization program, including Section 317 program funds that buy vaccines for underinsured children not eligible for VFC, and uninsured adults.
  • improving HPV vaccination coverage
  • developing school vaccination clinics
  • building local public health infrastructure (your county health department) that can detect, control, and prevent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Cutting these funds could once again could put vaccines on the “chopping block.”

The Section 317 Immunization Program was already slated for a big drop in President Trump’s FY 2018 Budget.

What happened the last time we saw big drops to funding for our immunization programs? When Ronald Reagan was President, federal support for vaccine programs reached a low point, as rates of children living in poverty and without health insurance increased.

It took the immunization action plan of President George HW Bush in 1991 to stop the measles outbreaks that resulted.

Are we headed in that direction? Will it be even worse now, considering that you will be adding that to kids that are already skipping or delaying some vaccines because their parents have been scared by anti-vaccine propaganda?

Current Status of CHIP

CHIP still needs to be reauthorized and fully funded.

Tragically, even with the temporary ‘fix,’ many states are still planning for the worst.

That’s probably a good idea, as the CHIP ‘fix’ only provided about 1/2 of the money that they needed to keep the program going, even temporarily.

“I do not think this is anywhere close to enough money,” Bruce Lesley, the president of First Focus, a child advocacy group, recently told the New York Times.

Others say it is too little too late.

“By failing to extend long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Congress falls far short of the reassurance and relief families deserve. Instead, they will enter into a new year with no assurance that CHIP will continue to be there for them in the months ahead. What should be a time of comfort, celebration and reflection will instead be one of anxiety, fear and stress.

Congress also failed to fund the Maternal Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which serves at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children, and several other vital public health and safety net programs. The communities these programs serve already face uncertainty when it comes to their health care, which is now exacerbated by Congress’ failure to extend the programs long-term.”

Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics

What is going to happen to CHIP, the 9 million children on CHIP, and their families?

“Congress’ failure to extend CHIP funding long-term has resulted in a manufactured emergency that has real consequences for children, families and pregnant women. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is bipartisan policy ready to be passed right now to extend CHIP funding for five years. Both chambers of Congress support it; the only thing preventing it from passing is political will. Congress must take the opportunity to pass a five-year CHIP funding extension on a bill this week to fund the federal government.

Right now, the greatest threat to children’s health care coverage is congressional inaction.”

Statement of Leading Children’s Health, Medical and Advocacy Organizations: Short-Term CHIP Funding Falls Short for Children

Take action and tell Congress to #ExtendCHIP and to #PutKidsFirst. We want a five-year extension of CHIP without harmful offsets, especially any that could lead to fewer kids getting vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

What to Know About the CHIP “Fix” From Congress

By taking money from other important programs, including many that involve helping kids get vaccines, the long overdue short-term “fix” for CHIP by Congress likely created new problems and it still has many parents worried that their kids could lose their health insurance early next year.

More About the CHIP “Fix” From Congress